Tuesday, January 26, 2010

How I Almost Became A Land Baron

If you remember my previous posting about the poor dead tree in “no man’s land” on the right-of-way of the dirt road in front of my house, you’ll recall that that area operates under the County’s version of the Heisenberg’s Dead/Live Cat uncertainty principle – it is at the same time that it isn’t, so to speak. If there’re problems out there in the stretch of dirt from my property line to the middle of the dirt road, well, that’s my problem. But if I want to claim “my problem dirt” as mine, well, I can’t because it’s the County’s.

Sigh. All this land, just for the claiming, just out of reach. Or nearly so. In yesterday’s Tribune, Bob Cuddy reports a recent proposal by Public Works Director Paavo Ogren presented to the BOS that “Homeowners, not the county, should be held responsible for sidewalks, that run in front of their homes . . .. . Ogren told supervisors last week that state codes require property owners ‘to make any needed repairs to sidewalks fronting the parcel’ If they don’t, the government agency can fix it and bill the homeowner, he said.”

All of which is likely being proposed because the County’s broke and looking for ways to shove more and County responsibility/costs off onto private homeowners. Which seems to be the permanent mind-set of Americans nowadays: Get wanted public amenities without having the public paying for them by the phony slight of hand of sticking the costs to The Other Guy, which, ultimately, turns out to be All of Us anyway, which we don’t realize because it takes an IQ larger than our shoe size to figure that out, which sized IQ we’re clearly lacking.

At any rate, “[Paavo] suggested that the county create an ordinance that would ‘assign liability’ to the property owners.” “Asked later to elaborate on the proposal, Ogren reiterated that the state Streets and Highways Code ‘provides the ability to have property owners fix sidewalks, and many agencies do place the responsibility on property owners.” Although he also noted that at this time this county doesn’t have an ordinance that would invoke that State code. But the Supes looked askance at his present proposal and sent it over to County Counsel Warren Jensen to look into the whole matter.

Especially the “liability” issue, since it does seem patently unfair to force liability on a homeowner when he/she has absolutely NO control over public access. I mean, homeowners have liability over their own property, but then they can control who comes onto their property because they can fence it off and limit access. But you can’t do that with streets or sidewalks. With those, every damned fool in the world is free to traipse around on the thing and fall down and sue you and there’s no way you can keep the damned fools from doing that.

So it remains to be seen what County Counsel comes up with. But for a moment there, I had dreams of my new estates, vast swaths of land sweeping from my property line right into the middle of the dirt road in front of the house, all now filled with wild mustard seedlings, the odd coyote bush, purple wild pea-family type bushy thingees, some Matilija Poppies and lots of potholes. All of it now prey to drunken drivers who come careening down the “public” road, swerve off to play wheelies in the sloped sand-hill property up the street, then come sliding sideways to topple into the ditch across the street. Pass an ordinance and I and most of my neighbors will fence “our” property off, pool our money to hire an attorney to argue that liability must go hand in hand with control, and then start planting petunias and posting No Trespassing Signs.

Or, better yet, we could even set up a toll road. After all, I don’t want just anybody crossing Calhoun’s Acres and trampling on the petunias. Or run over me as I sit in my Adirondack chair out in the middle of the peace and quite of MY road, enjoying the nice sun while the dogs frolic around on my vast new baronial estate.

And mounted Outriders dressed in bright yellow waterproof slickers, gimlet eyes hidden behind mirrored sunglasses, armed with high powered rifles, ceaselessly, restlessly patrol the borders of my landholdings, looking for some damned fool “public” to shoot.

Speaking of Shooting The Public . . .

Steve Paige has an interesting posting with a downloadable PDF, over at his website at I suggest you read what he has to say. It is most interesting and gets back to the heart of 83-13, a moratorium that was supposedly based on the danger of high-nitrates to our drinking water. Contained in the “zero discharge” requirements within the PZ imposed by the RWQCB are multitudes of contradictions, such as How can the RWQCB issue a permit to the county for a gravity system that they know “leaks” and “pollutes” within a “zero discharge” PZ? And so forth. Or, what evidence did the RWQCB have that Los Osos is filled with “leaking” septic tanks, hence requiring that if a STEP system were to be used (using sealed pipes that don’t “leak”) all the tanks had to be replaced?

Including legally permitted tanks that aren’t “leaking” anything, hence aren’t “discharging” anything in a “zero discharge” zone, and once their wastewater “discharge” were piped to a sealed pipe ("zero discharge") and taken away for treatment, there would be “zero discharge” in the “zero discharge” zone, hmmmm?

Questions like that. I suggest people really need to start thinking about this since the RWQCB and the County and, so far, the Coastal Commission have refused to ask and answer and/ or address (truthfully) any of those issues. And the answers become really critical when you look at cost issues.

Posted with permission.


Alon Perlman said...

Adirondack ? We are in the wild west, Give them riders leather overcoats, Winchester repeaters, and a Marlborough Man crows foot squint, better yet Jus' sit on the porch rockin chair, Shotgun in lap and glare at the county trucks while whistlin "This land is your land, this land is my land".

As for leaky systems- Steve has some nice diagrams, well explained.
I commented there- here is a portion of my posted comment reproduced wthout permission-
"Now; All septic systems leak. Why? They are composed of two main elements. The Tank,
which is not supposed to leak. And the leach field (and unfortunately deeper seepage pits) which is supposed to leak (leach out). That is why we don't call them "blocked pipe fields".

And one of the main tragedies here, is how confused the system-tank-leachfield-seepagepit description has become
(RWQCB Should had known better, but the misuse of the words has become universal)."

Bev. De Witt-Moylan said...

Ann, you might give claiming half your street a try. In walking my dog from pillar to post it is plain that several residents have already assumed control of their portions of east-west streets. Pismo and San Luis Ave are impassable by vehicles in certain blocks - not because of County erected barriers as in some of the north-south streets, but by rock gardens, trees, lawns, specially designed parking spaces, fences, hedges, volley ball courts, and quaint stone-lined walking paths. Some of these barriers front onto Eleventh Street, making it impossible for emergency vehicles to use Eleventh Street as an access road to certain other streets. By now the fire dept must have a list of streets made impassable by residents so that EMT's and fire trucks don't waste time having to find another way around.

The areas that have been assimilated are unpaved, so apparently are fair game. In that case, it appears your street fulfills all criteria for a takeover.


Having been in the rabbit hole with the CCRWQCB for four years next week, the downwardly spiraling logic of permitted leaks/zero discharge has become mind bogglingly redundant.

Churadogs said...

Bev, re claiming streets. When Bud Laurent was Sup, he instructed the County to fight "quiet title" with all teeth and nails. Prior to that people could claim (and buy) quiet title to part of their easements. Over the years, the county realized that this was creating a potential mess so they've blocked all efforts. We're now left with a hodge-podge. Most of the innies and outies you're looking at are "illegal" plantings that will be removed when the sewer pipes come to town and/or streets get paved. There will be many unhappy homeowners.

Alon, re the misuse of words. Amen to that, brother. Now, the question is, will a court of law require that words actually mean what they mean? Or will the courts also go all Humpty Dumpty?